The benefits of homeschooling are widely known, but it can be challenging to find group activities for your homeschooled kids, especially activities of interest to a teen. While it is untrue that homeschoolers lack social development, it is still important for them to be involved in group activities that further develop their social skills and problem-solving abilities. Not to mention that all teens need a friend group to help them navigate the world of near-adulthood. If you are struggling to find group activities for your teenage homeschooler, here are a few places you may not have thought to look.
When it comes to maintaining the physical well-being of your homeschooled teens, you can ensure they get enough sleep, eat balanced meals and take multivitamins for teens, but finding sports programs can be tough.
You may be surprised to find out that according to responsiblehomeschooling.org, in more than half of all states, homeschoolers have some level of access to the interscholastic programs in public schools. In these states, your teen can participate in whatever sports programs the schools offer including football, baseball, basketball, tennis and golf. So, if your teen is sports-minded, he or she could reap the benefits of team sports at no cost to you.
If your teen isn’t into sports, he or she may have access to other activities like speech and debate teams and some clubs. This can be the perfect way to continue to experience the benefits of homeschooling while still giving your children access to group activities that will allow them to develop critical interpersonal skills.
Co-ops and Homeschool Groups
Homeschool cooperatives can be a great way to get your kids involved with other homeschoolers. You don’t have to sign up for a full slate of classes to become involved in most co-ops so you can still maintain control over your child’s education.
Many co-ops offer the kind of academic classes that are best taught in a group setting such as language courses. It’s also a great way to outsource the teaching for classes you don’t feel qualified to handle yourself, like science courses or upper-level mathematics. Additionally, co-ops often offer elective courses such as theater, robotics, art or public speaking.
As opposed to co-ops, homeschool groups tend to be focused on social interaction rather than academics. It can be a good avenue for setting up group activities like movies, outdoor meetups and other one-off outings. Although meetings are not as regular as a co-op, groups still offer consistent interaction with the same group of peers which allows building long-term friendships for both kids and parents.
For teens that enjoy outdoor activities, programs like Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of America can offer opportunities to learn wilderness skills and be part of a dedicated group.
As an alternative to BSA or GSA, Navigators USA has been around since 2003. While providing an experience that runs parallel to BSAs outdoor programs, Navigators pride themselves on their inclusivity and scouts of all genders, races and religions are welcomed.
Other scouting organizations that reject exclusivity and biases include Campfire, the Baden-Powell Service Association and SpiralScouts. Both the BPSA and SpiralScouts have been around since the early 2000s, while Campfire was established in 1910. All are co-educational and offer programs for children from ages as young as 3 to young adults under the age of 21.
Many local recreation centers now have programs developed just for homeschoolers. This could be everything from homeschool P.E. classes to clubs or arts and crafts. For the artistically inclined teen, your local arts center may have music and theater resources available.
Finding activities for homeschooled kids can be challenging, and as children grow into their teen years the opportunities lessen. Do a deep dive into local resources and you might be surprised at what’s there.